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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All,

My SO and I adopted a very cute mix-breed pup (9 months) that had been picked up as a young puppy off the streets of Bulgaria (we're expats living in Belgium) then shipped to a shelter in the Netherlands 3 months ago and we adopted her Friday 9/25.

So far she seems to be making great progress in coming out her shell and learning to be a house-pet, but I have a few questions on how to proceed forward.

History on where she's coming from behaviour wise:
She was really skittish and if we even walked remotely in her direction (even not looking at her) she would shy further away. We kept a harness & drag line on her so that we could catch her. Once caught she would just stand in fear (never ever lashing out or showing any aggression). She pepped up a little on walks so we did lots of little walks around the neighborhood as bonding and so that she had to look to us for guidance/confidence.

Our main tactics were ignoring her completely, tossing treats to her at first randomly, then when she didn't shy away, then to lure her towards us (no eye contact), and for making eye contact with us. She now will approach me very tentatively and take a treat from me (even with me looking at her/facing her) but will recede a step or two once she has it. She will allow my SO to approach her to give her a treat or will come to him if he is turned away from her.

She seems to really like being pat/stroked, and for the first time ever approached me on her own and just stood with me, I gave her some lovin (no treats -- didn't have them handy) and then walked off. I was thrilled! I always try to end the patting/affection by leaving her rather then waiting for her to end it or wander off.

When out walking we have her on a 25' rope (an old lunge line from when I had my horse) and when in the park she can wander with that range. If she starts to follow her nose and the distance between us is getting to the end of the rope, I'll call her name and something like "let's go" or "come on" and make a kissy noise (habit from horses *sigh*). She almost always picks up and trots in the direction we're moving, and I've started giving a treat if she trots to right alongside me. I'll also stop on random occasion to call her to me and give her a treat.
So far her leash manners are great!

So my questions are -- where do we go from here?
She's only done two "no no's" in the house that i've had to correct: chewed a phone charger and put her front feet up on the kitchen counter to smell. A not-so-very-harsh "Ah Ah, no" ended both of those easily.

When will I know she's ready to start learning things like sit, down, stay?

How do I get her to play? I'll put peanut butter in her kong and she'll lick it out but not interact with it otherwise. She has a rope toy and I'll smear a little peanut butter on it and once the PB is gone she'll chew on other parts of the toy for 5 minutes or so and then leaves it. Today for the first time she picked up the rope toy, tossed it, jumped in place 2x and then pounced on the toy -- but then lay down after. It was the first sign of play i've seen! How do I encourage it? If I approach her while she has the toy in her mouth she just drops it and backs off.

What are some other games or activities to do with her while she continues to adjust to us? Right now it's just walks -- potty walks (we have no backyard) at 7 AM, 6 PM and 10 PM and two "big" walks (45 minutes but at a very slow "smell everything" meander) at 9 AM and somewhere between 2-4 PM. Between those walks she just sleeps in her crate or on the rug in the living room. I also try to find an excuse to leave the house during the day for 15 minutes minimum during which she's crated so she's used to being left and knows that we always return.

Sorry for how long this is!! I'm feeling happy with her progress but really want to make sure we continue with this positive trajectory. I feel like we're coming over the first hump (fearing us) but am uncertain on how we proceed forward? This is my first "older" (i.e. more then 10 weeks) adoption and by far the most sensitive/shy dog I've known.

ETA: she is our only dog, I'm working from home this week so am around all day, and she seems to have housetrained herself. Also she appears to like being in our company, if she's in the living room/kitchen area and my SO and I both walk to the bedroom on the other side of the apartment (through a hallway that blocks her view of us) she'll get up and follow and lie down in the bedroom. She just likes to have her "safety bubble" space. She now lets me walk right up to her while looking at her but her whole body tenses and she kind of leans away. With my SO she'll move away from him unless hes not looking at her, then she stays in place.
 

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So my questions are -- where do we go from here?
She's only done two "no no's" in the house that i've had to correct: chewed a phone charger and put her front feet up on the kitchen counter to smell. A not-so-very-harsh "Ah Ah, no" ended both of those easily.
Please stop that. If she's that shy, any amount of punishment isn't something that you want to add to your relationship. If you don't want her to chew on something, keep it out of her reach and provide her with lots of things to chew. If you don't want her feet on the counter, reward her for feet on the floor. Keep things positive.

I really like Zac George and kikopup (both on youtube, george is also active on facebook) for training videos.

I have to say, I actually squealed with joy when I saw you spelled "skittish" right. I don't think I've ever seen it spelled correctly online.
 

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I have to say, I actually squealed with joy when I saw you spelled "skittish" right. I don't think I've ever seen it spelled correctly online.
Oh, you mean you don't enjoy "Skiddish"? It always makes me picture a dog sliding and skidding around the floor. Like Tokyo Drift....but for dogs. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the responses.

I've looked at Zak George & Kikopup youtube videos, very interesting but I'm not sure we're quite to any of those levels yet to start that kind of training. Hopefully down the line! We're still working on her taking treats from me without shrinking away.

I should have been more explicit with the "Ah Ah no" -- it's really not punishing AT ALL. It's said in the same tone that I always talk to her in, quite sing-songy and verging on baby-ish. It's more just to get her attention on me and then I redirect by tossing a treat a distance from her so she goes to get it and then I walk into the space where she was. Usually she'll wander off and nap or go chew on her kong and I reward by walking past and dropping a treat.

She's REALLY come out of her shell today, it's like she woke up and decided that life is OK. She wagged her tail when I walked into the living area and came up to me directly to be petted. She played with her chew rope (picking it up and tossing it around then pouncing on it) and on our walk today she independently greeted 2 dogs! I'm so thrilled!

I know she'll probably have her off days as well but it's so amazing seeing her turn this corner, I can see her personality beginning to shine through and it's very rewarding :D
 
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